How do you cultivate a faith that has ENDURANCE?
HALL OF FAME
The Hall of Fame does not reward players that had one good season or one good year, it rewards players who had great endurance throughout their career. These people have stood the test of time.
So how do we as individuals, as a church…not be one and one, but run the race of faith with endurance?
Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
What are some of the weights that keep us from running the race to our full potential?
- The weight of heavy EXPECTATIONS – possible failure.
- The weight of heavy LEGS – being out of shape or practice.
- The weight of a heavy HEART – sin.
WHAT IS OUR FAITH ROOTED IN?
SIN = Trying to find a shortcut to the promises of God.
FAITH = “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
- It pushes us forward, leads us to action.
- But faith is not BLIND. What we are believing is GOD, and he has a track record. He is worthy of our trust.
God is our tangible, observable, considerable evidence in which we ground our hope. So faith in God is not blind faith, it’s not irrational, but rather very rational, very measured, very objective, because it is believing God. It’s not believing in God, but rather believing God.
God uses visible proofs to substantiate his invisible power, seen all across the New Testament, heard in people’s testimonies today. But while there are visible evidences that can be investigated and corroborate and can help to strengthen our faith…faith itself is trust God at his word, even when we have not yet seen the promises fulfilled.
The most real thing in the world is not what is VISIBLE, but what is INVISIBLE, for out of the invisible came the visible. God spoke this world into being (Hebrews 11:3). Only by faith can we engage that power which needs not the visible. Without faith we are actually living more blind than with faith.
FAITH VS. ACTIONS
Hebrews 11:2 – “For by (faith) the people of old received their commendation.”
Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Why is it that faith pleases God more than our actions? This is an important question to consider, for it is the key to understanding why Christianity is wildly different than any other religion or thought process.
Christianity teaches that we are saved by FAITH ALONE and not by our righteous actions, not by our traditions, rituals or morality.
Marriage example: A husband is not pleased when his wife simply does something that he wants, but does it begrudgingly or fighting him at every turn. What pleases him is that she has faith in him and his judgment, that he’s thinking of the best for their family and the glory of God. And the same goes the other way, if he does something in a way that tells her he does not trust his wife or have faith in her, that’s not pleasing to her.
> It’s the same with God. It’s not the action that he cares most about, but whether we trust him at his word and have faith in his character and love for us.
Having true saving faith does not mean acknowledging God when he gives you something promised, it means trusting him even when you have not yet received those promises. Even if they never come.
FOCUSING ON THE PAIN
The key to running the race of faith with endurance athletes is not avoiding or ignoring the pain of not-yet-fulfilled promises, but seeing the pain clearly and recognizing that there is something GREATER on the other side of it. Patiently waiting, faithfully waiting, knowing there’s purpose.
Hebrews 11:40 – “since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”
We are “made perfect” by embracing and persevering through the pain. As we wait on God we have faith that he will bring “something better” on the other side of the TRAINING that is the life of faith in him.
Why does God wait so long?
God’s better plan is not better “apart from us.” His plan for salvation includes the Gentiles, it includes the Romans, and it includes the Norwegians, the Chinese and Brazilians and Africans, and even the Americans. But in order for everyone to be included, God had to be patient.
God had to wait for Abraham’s offspring to multiply and for the perfect time to enter human history through his Son Jesus. He had to wait for the perfect time when the world was connected in such a way that when Jesus rose to heaven and sent his spirit to empower the disciples to take this message to the ends of the earth…the world would be READY. The world was connected like never before in ancient Rome–the Roman roads, the common language of the empire, made it possible for the gospel of Jesus Christ to spread as was God’s better plan.
The gospel came at the right time & place to reach all nations. His timing is perfect.
He is waiting for us. He has a better plan than we can foresee, and it requires waiting. We are included in his redemptive plans, our friends, our family, our city. He wants more of us to return to him. We can’t focus solely on the end prize, the final fulfillment. Let us open our eyes to the smaller fulfillments that are visible now, that he is with us, that he has never failed us and never will.
1. Apply these keys to develop the inward character of a sacrificer:
- ZOOM OUT – In the midst of a crisis. Look at the constant message God has delivered over thousands of years through the prophets, the apostles and Jesus.
- APPLY THE JESUS FILTER – Look at everything God has done and said through the lens of Jesus. Being the ultimate revelation of God, Jesus sheds light on all of God’s other communication. God never contradicts himself. Read the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John to learn more about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
- TURN IT DOWN – Get into the right posture of hearing — clear the distractions. Turn down the music, give yourself space and time to hear from God, whether that is by prayer, reading the Scriptures, or by creating time in your schedule to worship and discuss Jesus in community. Join a Fellowship Group. We need to teach each other and practice together softening our hearts to the voice of God.
2. Read the rest of Hebrews (verses 4-40) to see examples of God being pleased with people’s faith in Him.
3. Converse about this topic with others:
- Are you struggling to have faith in the unseen promises of God?
- Do you recognize God’s love and purpose in waiting to include us in his better plan?
4. Reflect personally on the condition of your heart:
- Is your faith true enough to endure even when you never receive the promises in this life?
- What shortcuts are you trying to take to get to the promises of God?
5. Listen to this week’s sermon on our website.